The pine-trees of Miho Town (now part of Shimizu City, about 150Km west of Tokyo) form a famous beauty-spot and are visited by thousands of tourists from all over Japan every year.
CU termites in wood; GV ancient pine-tree; MV man digging around pine-tree root; CU termite damage to wood (2 shots); CU termite; TV aerial view of pines and Miho Town; TRAVELLING SHOT Miho houses; GV City surveyor (red jacket) into house; GV and PAN surveyor shows damage; GV City Council meeting ZOOM TO man shows damage to cotton clothing; GV man sprays pine-tree (2 shots); GV surveyor talks to man digging; CU piece of rotten root infested with termites; MV termite damage to living tree; GV ancient pines and nearby houses; GV woman removes tray from family shrine to reveal damage; CU carpenter tests joist with tool to reveal damage; GV man pulls down board to reveal damage; CU termites.
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Background: The pine-trees of Miho Town (now part of Shimizu City, about 150Km west of Tokyo) form a famous beauty-spot and are visited by thousands of tourists from all over Japan every year. They are famous first because they are very old and very beautiful; and secondly because of an old Japanese fairy-tale which tells how an angel once spread out her celestial robe over them while she was bathing. A passing peasant stole the robe which was, however, restored to the angel after a verbal duel with the thief. The story is as well-known in Japan as Little Red Riding Hood to English or American children; and every Japanese knows about the beautiful old pine-trees of Miho.
Now, however, the pine-trees -- as well as many wooden dwellings in the neighbourhood -- are threatened by the depredations of termites, whose damage was first spotted in the area about ten years ago. No-one quite sure where the termites came from or why they are now flourishing where they were never known before. But the warm climate and damp sandy soil seems to suit them well. Many of the pine trees have been damaged by the insects, and recently an old tree 50 cm in diameter suddenly fell down, its trunk eaten away. Just as seriously, a survey has shown that as many as 60% of the houses in the vicinity have been affected by termites, most of them seriously. The termites eat away at the interior of wood used as structure or furniture without marking the surface, and sometimes irreparable damage is done before anything is suspected.
For the past three years, the Cultural Affairs Agency (a national body which has responsibility for such beauty-spots) and the Shimizu City Council have jointly spent over 4,000 pounds sterling a year in an effort to control the termites. But so far they have met with no success. In fact, in spite of all efforts, the termites appear to be spreading. Many of the age-old pine trees have been treated to rid them of the white insects, but it is feared that more may unexpectedly fall down, perhaps causing injury or damage. And the people of Miho town are at their wits end to find a way to protect their wooden houses and possessions.